Undergraduate Writing in a Second Language Context
Analysis of English Intra-sentence Issues
Keywords:L2 context, student writing, intra-sentence, implicit knowledge, explicit knowledge
This descriptive study investigates English intra-sentence writing challenges of undergraduate students in public educational institutions in Ghana. To achieve this, analyses of responses given in a short English language test administered to final-year undergraduate students studying English in four tertiary institutions are presented. The items constituting the test derived from intra-sentence deviations that featured prominently in 500 essays written by 250 undergraduate students between 2015 and 2017. The items involve topics that undergraduate students are assumed to have covered during their pre-tertiary education but which are areas of challenge to them. Test item analysis tables were devised to determine facility indices of the items and to ascertain the students’ implicit and explicit knowledge of the language features investigated. The study reveals that students pursuing undergraduate programmes in English Departments in Ghana have varied degrees of familiarity with defined intra-sentence writing issues. Additionally, the students’ implicit knowledge weightings of the topics investigated far outstrip their explicit knowledge values. Finally, the study suggests that the quantum of intra-sentence writing challenges of students from each of the institutions investigated is fairly congruent. These findings have pedagogical implications for the contents of the communication skills programmes mounted for all fresh undergraduate students in Ghana.
Agor, J. T. 2014. English on Ghanaian campuses today: A short-term antidote. In Yankah, K., Saah, K., and Amfo, N. (Eds.) Legon Reader in Ghanaian Linguistics, pp.178-191. Oxfordshire: Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited.
Arhin, V. E. M. 2009. The Impact of Oral Interactional Discourse on Undergraduate Academic Writing. Unpublished PhD Thesis. University of Ghana.
Anyidoho, A. 2002. Analysis of the writing of final-year university students. Ghanaian Journal of English Studies, 1, 58-71.
Bialystok, E. 1978. A theoretical model of second language learning. Language Learning 28 (1), 69-83.
Bitchener, J. 2008. Evidence in support of written corrective feedback. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17, 102-118.
Bitchener, J. & U. Knock, 2010a. Raising the linguistic accuracy level of advanced L2 writers with written corrective feedback. Journal of Second Language Writing, 19, 207-217.
Bitchener, J. & U. Knock, 2010b. The contribution of written corrective feedback to language development: A ten month investigation. Applied Linguistics, 31, 193-214.
Brewton, J., B. J. Kinnick, L.S. Peterson, and L. McMullan. 1962. Using Good English XII. California: Laidlaw Brothers.
Buscemi, S., A. Nicolai, and R. Strugala. (1998). The Basics: A Rhetoric and Handbook. California: Mc Graw-Hill.
Campbell, R. R. 1962. English Composition for Foreign Student. Hong Kong: Longmans.
Celce-Murcia, M., 2002. Why it makes sense to teach grammar through context and through discourse. In: Hinkel, E., Fotos, S. (Eds.), New Perspectives in Grammar Teaching in Second Language Classrooms (pp. 119-134). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Dako, K. 1997. Features of stylistic versatility in English as observed in the writing of English graduates. In: Dakubu (ed.) English in Ghana (pp 263-274). Accra: Black Mask Publishers.
Dako, K., A. Denkabe, and B. Forson, 1997. The Ghanaian university students? knowledge of grammar. In: Dakubu (ed.), English in Ghana (pp. 53-68). Accra: Black Mask Publishers.
Dakubu, M. E. K. (1988). The Language of Ghana. London: Kegan and Paul.
DeKeyser, R., 1998. Beyond focus on form: cognitive perspectives on learning and practicing second language grammar. In: Doughty, C., Williams, J. (Eds.). Focus on Form in Classroom Second Language Acquisition (pp. 425-63). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dekeyser, R. 2003. Implicit and explicit learning. In: Doughty, C. J. & Long, M. H. The Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. (pp. ).
Ellis, R. 1994. Implicit/explicit knowledge and language pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly, 28, 166-172.
Ellis, R. 2002a. Grammar Teaching ? Practice or consciousness-raising? In: Richards, J. C. & Renandya, W. A. (Eds.) Methodology in Language Teaching (pp. 167-174). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ellis, R. 2002b. The place of grammar instruction in the second/foreign language curriculum. In: Hinkel, E. & Fotos, L. (Eds.). New Perspectives on Grammar Teaching in Second Language Classrooms (pp. 17-34). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Ellis, R. 2005a. Measuring implicit and explicit knowledge of a second language: A psychometric study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 27, (2), 227-275.
Ellis, R. 2005b. Principles of instructed language learning. System 33, 209-224.
Ellis, R. 2006a. Current Issues in the teaching of grammar: An SLA Perspective. TESOL Quarterly 40, (1), 84-107.
Ellis, R. 2006b. Controversies in grammar teaching. TESOL Quarterly 40, (2), 141-172.
Ellis, R. 2010. A framework for investigating oral and written corrective feedback. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32, 335-349.
Ellis, R., Y. Sheen, M. Murakami, and H. Takashima. 2008. The effects of focused and unfocused written corrective feedback in an English as a foreign language context.
Ferris, D. R. 1995. Student reactions to teacher response in multiple-draft composition classrooms. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 33-53.
Ferris, D. R. 1999. The case for grammar correction in L2 writing classes: A response to Truscott 1996. Journal of Second Language Writing 8, 1-10.
Ferris, D. R. 2004. The ?grammar correction? debate in L2 writing: where are we, and where do we go from here? Journal of Second Language Writing 13, 49-62.
Ferris, D. R. 2006. Does error feedback help student writers? New evidence on the short- and long-term effects of written error correction. In: Hyland, K. & F. Hyland. (Eds.). Feedback in Second Language Writing: Contexts and Issues (pp. 81-104). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Ferris, D. R. 2007. Preparing teachers to respond to student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16, 165-193.
Ferris, D. R. 2010. Second language writing research and written corrective feedback in SLA: Intersections and practical applications. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32, 181-201.
Ferris, D. R., Liu, H., Sinha, A., & Senna M. 2013. Written corrective feedback fir individual L2 writers. Journal of Second Language Writing 22, 307-329.
Ferris, D. R., & Roberts, B. 2001. Error feedback in L2 writing classes. How explicit does it need to be? Journal of Second Language Writing 10, 161-184.
Gogovi, G. K. 1997. Intensifiers + verb collocation: a case study of post-diploma usage in the University College of Education, Winneba. In Dakubu (ed.). English in Ghana (pp.46-52). Accra: Black Mask Publishers.
Howatt, A. P. R. 1984. A History of English Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hyde, F. B. 2014. On the state of English studies among first-year students in the University of Ghana. In Adika and Asante (eds.) Multilingualism, Language in Education, and Academic Literacy. Accra: Sub-Saharan Publishers.
Jacobs, L. Cheser and Chase I. Clinton 1992. Developing and Using Tests Efficiently. San Francisco: Jessey Bass Publishers.
Krashen, Stephen. 1981. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Oxford: Pergamon.
Krashen, S. 1982. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon.
Larsen-Freeman, D., 1997. Chaos/Complexity Science and Second Language Acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 18(2), 142-165.
Long, M., 1991. Focus on form: A design feature in language teaching methodology. In: de Bot, K., R. Gisberg, C. Kramsch. (Eds.). Foreign Language Research in Cross-Cultural Perspective (pp. 39-52). Amsterdam: John Benjamin.
Odamtten, H., A. Denkabe and E. Tsikata. 1994. The problem of English language skills at the university level: a case study of first year Law and Administration students at the University of Ghana. Legon Journal of the Humanities. 7, 95-125.
Owusu-Ansah, L. 1997. Nativisation and the maintenance of standards in non-native varieties of English. Winneba. In Dakubu (ed.). English in Ghana (pp.23-33). Accra: Black Mask Publishers.
Quirk, R., S. Greenbaum, G. Leech, and J. Svartvik. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
Robinson, P. 1994. Comments on Rod Ellis?s ?The Structural Syllabus and Second Language Acquisition? Implicit Knowledge, Second Language Learning and Syllabus Construction. TESOL Quarterly, 28, 161-165.
Sackey, J. 1997. The English language in Ghana: A historical perspective. In Dakubu (ed.). English in Ghana (pp.126-139). Accra: Black Mask Publishers.
Sackeyfio, N. A. 2008. Towards improving the quality of Ghana?s English. A paper presented at a national forum in Accra on improving competence in English language in Ghana, Accra, Ghana.
Schmidt, R. 1990. The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 11(2), 129-158.
Sheen, R. 2006. Comments on R. Ellis?s ?Current issues in the teaching of grammar: An SLA perspective?. TESOL Journal, 40, 828-832.
Sheen Y. 2010. The role of oral and written corrective feedback in SLA. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32, 169-179.
Swain, M. 1985. Communicative competence: some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. In: Gass, S., Madden, C. (Eds.). Input and Second Language Acquisition (pp. 235-252). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Swan, M., & C. Welter. 2006. Teach the whole of the grammar. TESOL Journal 40, 837-839.
Tandoh, E. (1987). Aspects of the Written English of University of Ghana Students. Unpublished M.Phil Thesis. University of Ghana.
Truscott, J. 1996. The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes. Language Learning 46, 237-369.
Truscott, J. 1999. The case for ?The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes?: A response to Ferris. Journal of Second Language Writing 8, 111-122.
Truscott, J. 2007. The effect of error correction on learners? ability to write accurately. Journal of Second Language Writing 16, 255-272.
University of Ghana. (1969). The Language Centre, University of Ghana, Legon. B.F.A. Special (1)/1969-1970. Pp. 68-81.
Yankson, K. 1994. Better English through Concord for West African Students (2nd ed.). Accra: Commercial Associates.
How to Cite
The Ghana Journal of Linguistics is published by the Linguistics Association of Ghana, P. O. Box LG 61, Legon, Accra, Ghana.
© Linguistics Association of Ghana and individual authors, 2020.